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The mad doctor has cooked up something evil in Reiner Knizia's Poison, a clever strategy card game. Players choose a potion card from their hand to add to one of three colored cauldrons, being careful not to let the pot go over a total value of 13.
The player who causes the cauldron to go over 13 must take all of the cards within it, trying to avoid taking a potion mixed with poison. Be the player with either the most or none of any potion and you're safe -- otherwise take the risk of receiving a deadly dose!
Players: 3 - 6
Time: 15 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Est. time to learn: 5-10 minutes
Weight: 502 grams
Language Requirements: Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English). Game components are language-independent. This is a domestic item.
- 42 Potion Cards
- 8 Poison Cards
- 3 Cauldron Boards
- Instructions (English, Spanish, French)
Average Rating: 3.5 in 1 review
Poison (Playroom Entertainment, 2005 - Reiner Knizia) is possibly one of the more overproduced games that I own. Really, the game only needs a small deck of cards, but the addition of three huge cardboard cauldrons add some flair and make a large box necessary. With Reiner Knizia himself on the front, smirking joyously as he mixes venomous concoctions, the game has a slightly evil overtone. What kind of game is this?
The answer is that it's a fun card filler. Not everyone that I've played it with has enjoyed it, and I see that some folk online are also rather antagonistic to the game. But there's something about the game, it has simple, easy gameplay that appeals to a lot of people. A group of teens, when given the game, will play over and over until I tell them to stop. It's a mindless diversion (although not entirely random) that just feels so simple and fun filled that I find myself constantly throwing it on the "pile o' games" for excursions. And that's why I must give it thumbs up.
Three large cauldron tiles are placed on the table, and then fifty cards are shuffled and evenly dealt to each player. Cards are either one of three different types of potions (red, blue, or purple - values "1", "2", "4", "5", or "7"), or poison cards (green - value "4"). One player begins, and then play proceeds clockwise around the table. ON a player's turn, they simply play one of their cards face up onto one of the cauldrons. The first player can play a card to any of the three cauldrons, but after that, all players may only play a card into a cauldron that contains cards of the same color. Also, once a cauldron has a color, cards of that color may be placed there only.
A poison card can be placed in any pot, even one that is empty - no cauldron is ever considered to be "green". If a player places a card in a cauldron that causes the total sum there to exceed thirteen, then they must take all the cards lying there and place them face down in front of themselves. Play continues until all of the cards have been played. At this point, all cards are revealed. The player who has the most cards of each of the three main colors may discard all the cards they have of that color. Players then score one point for each card they have and two points for each Poison card they have. The amounts are recorded, and another round begins. At the end of the game (one round for each player), the player with the lowest score wins the game!
Some comments on the game…
1.)Components: There's no question that Poison is an overproduced game - it's simply a deck of cards and three huge cauldrons rattling around in a medium sized box. I don't mind, though, as the cauldrons - thick black cardboard cutouts - are an attractive feature that get folk interested in the game. The cards, with a vinyl finish, are high quality, and each color potion is also in a different shaped bottle, to help distinguish them.
2.) Rules: The rules are on four, full-color pages, with a lot of illustrations and examples, including a detailed explanation of scoring. The game is very easy to understand, I've taught it to many groups of people - they simply need to know about "13", and that the person with the most cards of a color can exclude them from their scoring. I've taught the game to teenagers with great success.
3.) Strategy: As much as I enjoy the game, the strategy is really rather obvious. Players simply attempt to avoid going over "13" in any of the pots; and if they do, they should try to always take cards of that color, so as to have the most. One thing that the game does have that I find interesting is that players have all their cards at the beginning, so they have complete knowledge of what they can play throughout the game. It's quite possible to pull off a round in which a player scores no points at all, but that's more luck than anything else.
4.) Luck: Some folk find the game frustrating; especially when it seems that every time it is their turn, they have no choice but to take one of the groups of cards on the table. Other players occasionally get the hand in which it seems like they simply couldn't take a cauldron's worth of cards if they wanted to! I don't mind this luck, because the game is meant to be light and easy.
5.) Fun Factor: This is the most important point about Poison, methinks. Even though it's a very light, simple game, and the choices are fairly obvious (although sometimes a player has to choose whether to take a cauldron or not - if they're going for the most cards of a color), the game is a lot of fun. Playing a card that forces another player to take a cauldron is deliciously enjoyable, especially when there are one or more poison cards in the mix. It's one of those card games that everyone simply sits back and tosses a card in the middle and can have fellowship at the same time. Perhaps it's a gateway game for Uno players?
That being said, I do realize that there are folk who just will find the game frustrating and luck-filled. I easily can see these points but ignore them because of my enjoyment of the game. It's hard to clarify exactly what I like about Poison, but its ease of play is probably the biggest factor. It allows you to confront your opponents in a laid-back way, and the high quality components certainly don't hurt. When I have fifteen minutes to kill, Poison is one of the better ways to go. (Forgive the unintentional pun).
"Real men play board games"